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[PYCL: We’re not in Trouble with God!]

CedarS PYCLs–Possible Younger Class Lessons for:

“Everlasting Punishment”

The Christian Science Bible Lesson for May 5, 2013
by Kerry Jenkins, CS, House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

[PYCL #1: Ask children to think about whether Mommy, Daddy, or their Abba-daddy (God) would punish them.]  Even the youngest kids will know what punishment means! Read the subject together and ask if they know what that title is saying. Do they know what “everlasting” means? Knowing that word, do they think that their mom or dad would ever give them a punishment that lasts forever? If mom or dad wouldn't do that, do they think that God would? Over the years the best punishments that I've come across, morbid as that sounds, are those that just seem to be the natural consequence of whatever misdeed was done. Not everything we do seems to end with a natural consequence, but most misdeeds of the very young seem to have natural results that feel like a punishment, even when no one “issues” it. A perfect example: (with my kids these “misdeeds” don't stop with the “very young”). My 9 year old son was dressed in his concert outfit for church because he was playing in an orchestra concert shortly after lunch on Sunday. He ran outside after church and all around the grounds which were sopping with recent rain and very muddy. He came inside ready to go and absolutely covered in mud, pants and white shirt splattered! His dad took the shirt into the bathroom and washed as best he could in the sink with hand soap and wrung it out. It was maybe 50 degrees, windy and gray out. We did our best to dry it in the car in front of vents, but he had to put it on and let it dry from body heat. It was uncomfortable and yucky feeling. Who punished him for not being thoughtful about his good clothes? Did mom or dad, or did God? No! He just had to deal with wearing an uncomfortable shirt and maybe he'll have to earn the money to replace it since it is now stained. Did we shake a finger at him, lecture him (we try really hard not to, with mixed success!), did God yell at him? No…but the results were punishment enough. So talk about how we get in trouble when we aren't listening to what we know is right to do. We get in fights or arguments that make everyone sad or angry, we get cold (if we refuse to bring a jacket when told on a chilly day), we are unprepared for a test or class, or we have to sit out when we want to participate in recess or some other fun activity.

[PYCL #2 Why do we have rules like stop signs and traffic lights; Why does obedience help us?]  When we work as we know God wants us to, listening to a teacher or parent, being prompt in our responses, diligent in our work and so on, these actions also bring consequences, but these consequences are ones that bless us and others as well! Can they think of examples that fit this idea as well? I'm sure I've mentioned these ideas before, but they are always worth discussing and you can find new ways to present this material if you need to. I think it's important to talk about God as a law of Love, Truth etc. rather than as a guy or gal who is watching us and determining if we are doing the right thing or not…If God is regarded more as a law, it takes nothing away from Her tenderness or caring or love or protection. Rather, it makes it so that we are protected no matter what, wherever, or whenever or whatever we are doing (unless it's not in accord with that law). I've mentioned traffic laws as a reasonably good analogy here. They, like any human example, can be flawed. On the whole though, they get the point across in a way that kids can relate to. Ask them why we have stop signs or traffic lights or rules like not parking in front of a fire hydrant, or even speed limits. Generally, these laws bring not only order, but safety into our experience. We are much more unlikely to get hit by a car if we are watching the red light and being obedient when it tells us to stop. If we ignore the light and its meaning, we are not being punished by God when we get hit by a car, we simply are not being afforded the protection that comes with following the traffic laws. I'm pretty sure you can pose some questions to the kids so they can come to these conclusions on their own, rather than feeding it to them as I have here. It's a lot more fun for them to discover what this subject is talking about without being “told” about it.

[PYCL #3 Consider a practical perspective of repentance.] A continuing opportunity here would be to ask what might happen if you often broke traffic laws and got in wrecks, and then stopped disobeying these laws. Would you continue to get in the same kinds of accidents? Just so, if God is the law of Love, and doesn't “punish” us, likewise, the punishment that we find ourselves experiencing disappears as soon as we begin to follow the right paths that we talked about last week! It doesn't last a moment longer! How's that for merciful?! Can we do the same for our friends when they change their actions, can we stop treating them in a way that reflects former behavior? Wouldn't we want to be shown the same kind of mercy if we learn to be kinder, or more patient? Talk about the story of Zaccheaus in section 5 as an example of reform and mercy.

[PYCL #4 What is our duty?  What can we do every day that is the opposite of sin?] This subject gives us the opportunity to really delve into Jesus' great teachings of mercy, and love for others. Just as Craig talks about in the CedarS met. From this week, sin can be the act of doing nothing as well as the act of doing something wrong! Talk about what we can do for others that reflects the merciful, tender nature of God. How can we think about and show that we care for others. Certainly we can show this in many ways that they can name for themselves as regards mom, dad, siblings, friends teachers. How about we look together at Jesus' words in section four from Matthew about feeding the hungry, etc. What do they think our duty is to humanity? What can a small person with little or no money do for others? Do they want to come up with a project themselves to show how they care for someone or a group? This should be something genuine, not something you steer them towards. Better they wait until they are excited about a project than that you push them into something that isn't genuine. (Not that we can't encourage them!) There are many ideas that range from simply sharing something with each other at Sunday school or with the whole Sunday school or church, to something in the community or a home for elderly and so on. Maybe they'd like to learn some hymns to sing for someone who is stuck at home. You get the idea! Emphasize that these activities are prayer in action. Praying and doing were never separate things for Jesus, they shouldn't be for us.

[PYCL #5 God doesn’t punish us with sickness.] You can certainly touch on the idea, if you think it's relevant, that God doesn't give us sickness to punish us. This point is made in section two. I don't think most of the littler kids think this way, but certainly it is a danger as they get a bit older. Again, if God is the law of Love or Principle, what about that law would be able to bestow sickness on His creation?

There are an abundance of directions to head in with this lesson, without getting bogged down in the terminology of sin. I hope everyone has a great time sharing on Sunday!

 

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